Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Pun Pun (Lung Mor / behind Chiang Mai University branch)

Chiang Mai is a great place for vegetarian food. There are so many wonderful vegetarian restaurants out there, and I must say Thai vegetarian food is fantastic - generally healthy, fresh, and tasty sans meat version of the whatever Thai dish.

Pun Pun is actually a small organic farm and seed saving centre, as well as a self-sustainable community in the countryside of Chiang Mai. They promote sustainable living, and you can actually take courses there from how to build mud huts to organic farming.

They currently have 2 restaurants in Chiang Mai, and another branch is being built. The original restaurant is at Wat Suan Dok (Suan Dok Temple) on Suthep Rd. It's a simple set up, but very atmospheric eating under the bodhi tree and watching monks walk past. A couple of foodie friends introduced me to the restaurant a while ago, and I thought the food and drinks were lovely.

The other night, I had a chance to visit Pun Pun's 2nd branch "Lung Mor"(behind Chiang Mai University). It seems that the menu is pretty similar to the 1st branch, and has dizzying array of interesting dishes to choose from!

The Salad Dok Mai sounded particularly fascinating - edible deep fried flower salad & greens. It looked really pretty too, and the serving is quite large. There are lovely and crispy deep fried flowers on top of a bed of salad greens. I asked the staff what the flowers are, but he said he doesn't know. He just knows that there are rose petals..lol. My guess is that bougainvillea flowers are used. The salad is served with a refreshing side dressing - which I think might be made from pumpkin. 65 baht.


The Gang Musaman (musaman curry) is quite lovely too, and comes with serving of very nice brown/red rice, perfectly cooked. The taste is quite surprising - quite different from the mussaman curries I've had before. I half expected a sweeter tasting curry, but Pun Pun's version is more savoury and has more spice than other mussamans I have tried. The mushroom, tofu and potato give the curry a nice texture and crunch. 55 baht.


Nam Hed Song Kreung (homemade fermented mushroom sausage with garlic, lime, onion and ginger). Nam is a common local dish, normally made from fermenting pork, rice, garlic, salt, sugar, chilli,..etc for a few days. The fermentation process gives the dish a sour flavour. This is actually one of my favourite Thai dishes, particularly Deep Fried Nam Pork Ribs!

Ok ok..back to the mushroom "sausage" (which is actually hidden under the coriander leaves in the photo below!). I must say the mushroom "sausage" tastes rather like the "real" thing (i.e. the pork variety), and pretty similar texture too.

I'm not too sure if Westerners would appreciate the flavours of this dish, but if you'd like to try something different, I'd say give it a go. I think it's quite nice, and goes very well with the chillis, lime, shallots and cashew nuts. 60 baht.


Now to dessert... astoundingly, Pun Pun offers some rather exciting sounding vegetarian desserts! I think these are brought in from somewhere else, but the offering looks amazing from the photos and the description shown on the menu.

We opted from the Mango Cheesecake. Ingredients include mango, cashews, coconut, vanilla, dates, himalayan salt, love and consciousness. I mean, who can resist? Got to to try it. The "cheesecake" is served cold and really lovely and refreshing, albeit on the cute & small side! It's a bit like a smooth mango mousse on a firm coconutty base. Very, very nice.


The drinks are great too. There's a large range of herbal drinks, juices, smoothies and shakes to choose from. I went for the Iced lemongrass, hydrocortyle and mint drink and it was perfect compliment for the food and the hot, sticky weather.   30 baht.

Pun Pun Vegetarian Restaurant 

Branch 1 - Pun Pun Wat Suan Dok
At the back of Suan Dok Temple, Suthep Rd
Tel: 084 365 6581
Opens daily from 9am-4pm.

Branch 2 - Pun Pun Lung Mor
Suthep Rd, at the base of the mountain & near the entrance to D-Condo.
Tel: 086 181 6051
Opens from 10am-8pm

Please check out Google Maps for location!



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Monday, 11 August 2014

Giorgio Italian Restaurant (Revisited!)

Quite a few years ago, when people ask what's the best Italian Restaurant in Chiang Mai, Giorgio was often mentioned. Over the last few years, the number of great Italian / Mediterranean restaurants have mushroomed (lucky for Chiang Mai!) and so the name "Giorgio" has taken a backseat.

I had the opportunity to revisit this Italian restaurant when a friend from Japan recently came to Chiang Mai. Just down the road from the Night Bazzar where my friend was staying, Giorgio was in a good location to have a quiet dinner away from the hustle and bustle of Loi Khro Rd and Night Bazaar.

I found the service excellent and attentive, and the food lovely.

After taking orders, a plate of a couple of rather unassuming bruschetta appeared on our table. I didn't even bother to take a photo. Not that there was anything wrong with it, but it just didn't look as fancy and photo worthy as other bruschettas I've tried around town! But biting into the tomato topped bread, I really enjoyed the smooth flavours and the softish warmed bread. Now I which I have taken photos to show you!

A very tempting basket of bread and herbed butter was also offered, but I didn't have these as I was anticipating a rather large meal ahead.

First dish - Salmon Carpaccio. This isn't normally a dish I'd normally picked, but I guess it reminded my Japanese friend of Salmon Sashimi! The Salmon Carpaccio turned out to be wonderful - the thin slices of salmon was layered on a bed of rocket leaves, and topped with lemon zest and red peppercorns, and at the time of serving, drizzled with olive oil. Very lovely indeed! 290 baht.


The Grilled Vegetables came next. This was also very nice. The grilled zucchini (my favourite here) was superb with a slight smokey / burnt flavour and complimented well with herbs (not sure which kind) and the smoothness and roundness of the olive oil. The other veggies - grilled eggplant and capsicum were great too, but I liked the zucchini the best. 120 baht.


The Salmon Fettuccine with Tomato Cream Sauce was also lovely. Actually, we ended up choosing it because we couldn't decide whether to go for a tomato based or creamy pasta! In any case, we weren't disappointed. The ribbons of fettuccine itself was perfectly cooked (as far as I can tell!) - al dente. The flavours were perfect too, especially for me. I often find the taste of Italian food from restaurants (especially in Chiang Mai) too salty. However, I thought Giorgio made this dish just right. The smooth creaminess of the sauce was a dream. 290 baht.

Needless to say, there weren't anything left on any of the plates by the time we finished with these dishes!

Oh..and the house red was very nice too. I suppose it'd better be good at 280 baht/glass.


Giorgio Italian Restataurant
2/6 Prachasamphan Rd.
Changklan, Muang, Chiang Mai
Tel: 053 271866
Mob: 086 185 6327
http://www.giorgiochiangmai.com/giorgio.php
Opens: 11:30am-2:30pm for lunch ; 6pm-10:30pm for dinner
Reservation recommended



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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Bird's Nest Cafe

Healthy and delicious Thai and Mediterranean food are the order of the day for this homey little cafe in Chiang Mai Old City. 

Set in an old Thai teak house, Bird's Nest Cafe has a nice an relaxing ambience with a nice little corner on the 1st floor, and a place to lounge around on the 2nd floor.  


As we enter, we were greeted by a friendly lady on the counter / bar. We do need to place the order here and pay first before taking our seats. 

The menu is not huge, but there is a good range of breakfast; western food, including various types of sandwiches with options of homemade breads - pita, croissant, foccacia, ciabatta and whole wheat; various breakfast sets, tortilla wraps and salads. There are also some Thai dishes available. 

We decided to order one Western dish and one Thai dish, as well as the special Bird's Nest Coffee Latte (mixed coffee with cardamon, cinnamon, clove and star anise).

The coffee was ordered "mai wan" i.e. "not sweet". The spiced coffee was slightly bitter, had an interesting flavour, as you would have guessed from the ingredients! After tasting the coffee, I would have liked a bit more sugar! 65 baht. 


Interestingly, the straw used was of the non-disposable variety, and this fits well with Bird's Nest Cafe's philosophy of looking after our planet - they try to use less plastic and encourage customers to bring their own containers for take away food and drink. 

Organic ingredients and local produce are used as much as possible. A lot of products used, incidentally, are from Pun Pun. 

Grilled Mozzarella Sandwich with Tomato and Onion - We can choose from the various types of bread available (as listed above), and also from two "sauces" - cashew nut pesto or the sour cream garlic oregano.  We went for the foccacia with cashew nut pesto, and we weren't disappointed! The focaccia was very nice, especially with the very generous dollop of the cashew nut pesto (actually, more like half a jar rather than a dollop!) that gives a creamy and nutty accent to the "sandwich". Actually, I probably could have just eaten a jar the pesto by itself!  95 baht


Now onto the Thai dish - Tom Kha Mushrooms (Mushroom coconut soup) with brown rice. Tom Kha is one of my favourite Thai soups, so I was quite eager to taste Bird's Nest Cafe's tom kha. In case you don't know, this soup is a bit like Tom Yum soup with coconut milk added. The coconut milk tones down the strong spiciness in Tom Yum and gives a more mellow and rich flavour.

So how is Bird's Nest Cafe's Tom Kha? It's actually quite nice, but the flavours have been toned town, I guess to suit the mainly Western and Japanese clientele (from my observation from the one time I've been to the cafe!). Although it wasn't spicy at all (at least to me!), I still enjoyed it a lot.  85 baht (includes a plate of brown rice.. well..red in this case!).


Bird's Nest Cafe is a lovely and comfortable place to relax and have some good healthy food. The rest of the menu seems quite tempting too, and would love to go back to try it if I get the chance. I particularly like their philosophy of looking after the planet, and serving as much organic ingredients as much as possible. 

Singaharat Rd Soi 3
0894292467
Opens daily 9am-8pm
Music and Film events on Friday nights.



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Monday, 14 July 2014

Wo Wo Tou - Chinese Fusion Restaurant

Wo Wo Tou is the name of the this new Chinese Restaurant's specialty dish - steamed bun made with corn and soy flour. The waitress also mentioned that there is pumpkin in it as well. The bun has a hole in it where you can put in fillings.

Wo Wo Tou also happens to double as the name of the restaurant too, as you might have noticed from the title of the post!

This is actually the first time I've seen this Northern Eastern Chinese dish, and this sense of novelty actually  extends to a lot of the other dishes from Wo Wo Tou's extensive menu which comprises of dishes from various parts of China. The "fusion" bit, I guess, means Thai-Chinese fusion to suit the taste of local Thais.

This is probably what sets this restaurant apart from other Chinese restaurants in Chiang Mai - You can try a lot of dishes here that's not available (as far as I know!) else where in Chiang Mai.

Ok..on with the review.. first dish.. Wo Wo Tou. The buns are served steaming hot, and are slightly chewy with a smooth texture and slightly sweet taste. A little heavier than mantou (Chinese steamed buns). You can choose between 3 fillings - catfish, pork or chicken, all stir-fried with pickled mustards, garlic, scallion, parsley and spices. We chose the pork, which was very nice. The filling is quite strong in flavour - salty and a bit sweet,  and the more prominent sourness from the pickled mustard, which goes very well with the buns. There is a bit of sauce from the stir-fry, which makes the whole thing nice and juicy. 220 bath for the set (with 4 buns). Extra buns cost 10 baht each.

It's also interesting to note that this restaurant also focuses on the fact that food can be used as medicine and the menu tells us what each dish is good for. For example, wo wo tou works as a kidney tonic.


The Spicy Tofu is pretty much the regular mapo tofu. Given the name, I thought it would be quite spicy, but the flavour is quite mild (for me!). The fermented soy beans add a depth and richness to the dish. 180 baht.

This dish is good for "menopause and prevents many diseases such as cancer, blood clot..".


Fried Chicken with Dried Chilli - This one is for people who loves strong spicy flavour.. and as a bonus, you get the mouth and lip numbing, tingling  "ma-la" flavour from Sichuan cuisine. "Ma" is the Chinese term for the numbing effect from sichuan peppers. "La" means spicy. May be the numbness helps us to eat more chilli!

In this dish, the meat from the chicken thigh is fried with the sichuan peppers, salt, and heaps of roasted chillies. My mouth and lips were left slight numb and and quite tingly after eating the chicken. Loved it! 190 baht.

This dish, according to the menu, is great for reducing blood sugar level and increasing blood flow.


There are a lot of other interesting sounding dishes as well, including Over the Bridge Noodles (a Yunnan dish), Frog Spicy Soup, Fried Duck Mouth (!). For the not so adventurous, there are also "normal" sounding dishes as Mushroom Salad, Sweet Potato Soup, Sweet and Sour Fish...

The restaurant, in addition to serving good food, is also nicely furnished. The outdoor section is lovely, and overlooks a stream and bushes. The only complaint I would have is that it's right on the busy Mae Jo Rd, so it can get a bit noisy from the cars zooming past.

If you look closely at the top left photo (below), you may notice some fans under the seats on the edge of the restaurant. Very interesting! I guess it would be nice sitting there on a hot day...our legs certainly won't get hot...and it might also work as a mosquito repellant too (I guess!).


All in all a nice restaurant. Lovely ambience, good interesting food not found else where.

Price wise:  Around 180 baht/person. I think the prices are quite reasonable for the quality.

The serving size is OK (not huge, but acceptable). It would be nice if the portions are a bit bigger.

Wo Wo Tou 
203 Moo 6  T. Faham, A. Muang,
Chiang Mai
(Mae Jo-Phrao Rd)
Tel: 053 246 777
Hours: 10am-10pm daily
Facebook page

Direction: Coming from the city towards Mae Jo University, take the 1st U-turn after Meechok Plaza / Ruamchoke Market. Stay in the left lane. The restaurant is between Suan Nonsee Restaurant (the restaurant with the lake in front) and Lotus Supermarket.

There are a few parking spots in front of the building.


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Saturday, 12 July 2014

Fongkaew Kafe

Having followed Appleeyes's rather delicious looking food photos (especially of her cakes!) on Instagram for a little while, I decided to try her little cafe in the north eastern corner of the Old City - Fongkaew Kafe.

Fongkaew Kafe is in a set of shop houses in an area with lots of guest houses, and has a nice selection of drinks priced from around 40-65 baht. Cakes are around this price range as well.

This is their specialty drink - The Expresso Bomb. Frozen expresso balls in a sugar dispenser, served with milk, which you pour over the cinnamon stick to give a hint of cinnamon flavour. As the frozen expresso melts, the drink becomes more and more bitter. Honey is also served with the "bomb" in case it gets too strong! 65 baht. I didn't drink this one, but my friend said it was good!


The cakes are very good too! We chose the Coconut Cake -  very moist and smooth cake, full of coconut flavour, especially yummy with the creamy coconut sauce that's served with it.

The Red Velvet cake is also very good - nice and moist and has a lovely smooth, velvety texture with cream cheese topping.

The great thing I found about the cakes are not too sweet, just the way I like them!


The cafe itself is lovely and comfortable.. A nice place to hangout with friends!


Fongkaew Kafe
Turn left and Moonmeung Soi 9, after 20m, turn right into a soi full of shop houses.
Opens: Tue-Sun 8:30am-7pm
Tel: 085 107 8387

Facebook page


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Saturday, 28 June 2014

Ratsstube German Restaurant

I was very excited to see a flyer in Rimping Meechok Plaza about a new German restaurant that recently opened in Moo Baan Tanawan.

The flyer described the food so deliciously and I was transported back a couple of years ago when I went to Munich & Vienna... German pork knuckle, Vienna Schnitzel, Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce.... Mmmmm.... so of course, I have to give it a try.


First impressions. The restaurant is rather grand and opulent. Filled with antique treasures, Ratsstube feels rather formal, but the wait staff and owner are very friendly and welcoming. The lovely Thai owner explains that she learnt the recipes served at the restaurant from a dear friend who owns Ratsstube Bangkok.

Everything here is home made, including the sausages, mustard and salad dressings.



On with the food!

The German Pork Knuckle is fantastic. Apparently (if I remember what the owner said correctly), the pork knuckle is marinated in pink salt and herbs for several days, then "boiled" at a very low temperature for a while, then frozen. When there's an order, the pork knuckle is taken out of the freezer and heated up slowly, then deep fried (I think). The result is fantastic crispy skin (YUM!), and super tender pork that is pretty much falling off the bone. Served with very nice potatoes and sauerkraut. 490 baht.


To go with all that meat, we need some vegetables! The Mixed Salad with the three home made dressings is also great. Fresh and crispy veggies. The dressings, I think, are Italian, French and Thousand Island. 80 baht.


....and more meat! Mixed Sausage Plate with Home-fries and Sauerkraut. These are all homemade, according to the owner. Very nice, and again, loved the potatoes. 490 baht


There are loads of other dishes on the menu that I'd love to try, like the Vienna Schnitzel - I really want to see as it's as good as the one I had in Vienna (which was amazing)!

The dessert is very tempting too - like the Apple Strudel with Warm Vanilla Sauce... but I was just too full to eat any more.

Thai food is served here as well, but I haven't even looked at the Thai menu.

I must go back!

Ratsstube Chiang Mai
197 Moo Baan Tanawan
T. Sanphiseur, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
Tel: 053 230 388
Mob: 081 640 5884
Facebook 

Opens:
Tue-Fri 10:30am-2pm & 4:30pm-10pm
Sat & Sun 10:30am-10pm
Closed on Mondays.

GPS location: 18.827712,99.004616



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Sunday, 8 June 2014

Eating Out in Singapore - Mellben Seafood

OK.. This is supposed to be a blog about restaurants in Chiang Mai, but I hope you'll forgive me for putting in a review about this one in Singapore. The crab was so delicious that I have to tell everyone about it.

It began with a trip to Singapore a few years ago. My uncle took me to this rather unassuming but packed restaurant in Ang Mo Kio. I've been raving about the crab ever since, so on my recent trip to Singapore, crab at Mellben Seafood was the order of the trip...and I wasn't disappointed.


The Butter Crab was such a dream.. smooth and creamy finger licking buttery and slightly spicy sauce, which can be cleaned off with deep fried mantou (chinese buns).


The crab was huge and of course very fresh with firm, sweet meat. Check out the claw!


Mellben's most famous dish is the Crab Bee Hoon - crab in milky soup and noodles. This is what I had last time, and it was still very lovely with the naturally sweet soup that I had to drink slowly to savour the taste the last drop.

You can also order extra soup and noodles without the crab too!


Both crab were great, but I liked the Butter Crab more mainly because of the rich sauce.

Mellben does have non-crab dishes as well, like various types of veggies, and this wonderful fried pork ribs with salted eggs which gives a nice and flavourful coating to the ribs. Mmm..


So if you're in Singapore and craving crab, I would highly recommend Mellben. It's a bit out of the way though, so you may need to take a taxi. They also have some other branches too, but the original restaurant is at Ang Mo Kio. 

They do take bookings now, so it's a good idea to reserve your table before you go... but as the restaurant is so popular, be prepared to wait a bit even though you've made reservations. The other option is to turn up and wait in the queue! 



Mellben Seafood
232 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3 (St 22)
Singapore
Tel: +65 6285 6762 
Opens daily: 5pm-11pm


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